Where Women Made History: East Coast Edition

As part of the commemoration of the passage of the 19th Amendment, the National Trust has been working to tell the full history—to uncover and uplift women across the centuries whose vision, passion, and determination have shaped the country we are today. Our goal: discover 1,000 places connected to women’s history, and elevate their stories for everyone to learn and celebrate.

With so many great submissions we want to share some of the stories, and so in this guide we start with five remarkable women who lived along the East Coast of the United States. Each of these women were trailblazers in their own way, making an impact and sharing their voice through newspaper articles, books, scientific discovery, and more.

Have you encountered a place where women made history? They can be famous or unknown, protected or threatened, existing or lost. No matter their condition or status, these places matter, and we encourage you to share them with the world.

  1. Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby in the canoe, in the shadow of Mt. Kineo, Moosehead Lake, ca. 1895.  Crosby, of Phillips, worked for a number of years for the Maine Central Railroad where she promoted tourism in the Maine woods. She was a noted fly fisher and hunter.

    Photo By: Collections of Maine Historical Society

    Cornelia Thurza "Fly Rod" Crosby (Phillips, Maine)

    A journalist and an outdoorswoman, Cornelia Thurza Crosby (b. 1854) loved fly fishing and wrote a national newspaper column about Maine’s outdoor activities under the pseudonym “Fly Rod.” In 1897, when the Maine legislature passed a bill requiring hunting guides to register with the state, Crosby was the first guide to receive a license. Through her work as a writer and promoter for Maine outdoor tourism at various outdoor conferences, Crosby is credited as the first person to market Maine as a destination for early tourism.

  2. Chien-Shiung Wu at Columbia University in 1963

    Photo By: Smithsonian Institution via Flickr

    Chien-Shiung Wu (New York, New York)

    Chien-Shiung Wu was a pioneering physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project in the lab run by Columbia University. Her work included improving Geiger counters for the detection of radiation and the enrichment of uranium in large quantities. After World War II she continued her groundbreaking work on scientific principles related to beta decay (a type of radioactivity where a large element emits energy and then becomes a new element) and her work disproving the conservation of parity (that nature does not favor left or right). Unfortunately, while her experimental physics work was critical to the project, she was not included in the Nobel Prize awarded to her colleagues in 1957. Despite this lack of recognition, Wu continued to break ground in physics and was a vocal advocate for women in STEM. She died in 1997 at the age of 84.

  3. Exterior view of the R. R. Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia.

    Photo By: Kendra Parzen

    Barbara Rose Johns Powell - R.R. Moton High School (Farmville, Virginia)

    The niece of civil rights pioneer Vernon Johns, Barbara Rose Johns Powell was 16 years old when she initiated a student strike at R.R. Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia, for equal education. Unlike the white school in town, Moton had crumbling facilities and no gym or cafeteria. On April 23, 1951, after tricking the principal to leave the grounds, Johns and other students convinced students to strike to protest the disparity in education. Johns also contacted the Virginia NAACP attorney who asked students to sue for desegregation instead of better facilities, leading to the filing of "Davis v. Prince Edward County". This case was later incorporated into the 1954 landmark decision "Brown v. Board of Education".

  4. Image of Anna Julia Cooper Stamp

    Photo By: National Postal Service

    Anna Julia Haywood Cooper (Raleigh, North Carolina)

    Julia Haywood Cooper was born a slave in 1858 in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Hannah Stanley and the man assumed to be her master, Dr. Fabius J. Haywood. Her mother worked to send Cooper at the age of ten to St. Augustine’s Normal School where she began studying math and science. At the age of 21, after her husband’s death, she attended Oberlin College, receiving first her BA (1884) and then her MA (1888) in mathematics. Following Oberlin, Cooper taught at what was the M Street High School (later Dunbar High School) in Washington, D.C., eventually becoming its principal. During her time in D.C., Cooper became active in the black women’s club movement, and was vocal about women’s equality and rights. This work led to the publication of "A Voice from the South: By A Woman from the South", a book considered to be one of the earliest publications on black feminism. After entering a Ph.D. program in 1911, she completed it at the age of 67 at the University of Paris (Sorbonne)—the fourth African American woman to do so. She lived to 105 years.

  5. View of the Julia Tuttle Statue in Miami

    Photo By: Phillip Pessar via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Julia Tuttle (Miami, Florida)

    Considered the “mother of Miami,” Julia Tuttle moved to what is now Florida in 1891. Upon arrival, in addition to the land inherited from her father, she purchased an additional 640 acres which she used to convince others to settle in the area (on what was the original land of the Seminole and Tequesta peoples). Understanding that the region would never prosper economically without access to the railroad, Tuttle campaigned to convince Henry Flagler to extend the tracks to Fort Dallas. A few months after the first train arrived, the city was incorporated.

Every place has a woman's story to tell. Through Where Women Made History, we are identifying, honoring, and elevating places across the country where women have changed their communities and the world.

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